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Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2016 Show Report
Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2016 Show Report
Classic Audio Loudspeakers, United Home Audio, And Atma-Sphere
Report By Kemper Holt


  Where do you put giant, heavy loudspeakers so they will sound extraordinary? Well, in one of the biggest rooms at CAF called the Roosevelt is where I found two pairs of John Wolff's Classic Audio Loudspeakers residing. Reintroduced in 1988, the Hartsfield ($72,950 per pair) is an upgraded version of the lauded JBL. The Classic Audio Loudspeakers T-1.5 Reference ($72,950 per pair) horns were playing the many times I dropped in for a listen. The T-1.5s combine a century of horn design distilled into a modern product. No permanent magnet is as effective as the perfect "field coil" (electromagnet), and the T-1.5 has 3, one on the down-firing 18' woofer, one on the front firing 15", and another on the "TruExtent" Beryllium diaphragm midrange compression driver which fires into a wood Tractrix horn, the supertweeter is relegated to a permanent magnet. The T-1.5s are a 16 Ohm load, so John pairs them with Atmosphere Novacron Mk 3.2 OTL mono blocks ($22,000 per pair) which are actually more powerful into 16 Ohms than into 8, about 90 watts for the T-1.5s. An Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk 3.3 preamp ($16,600), has an outboard power supply and incorporates a quiet MC phono stage. John's own Kuzma Reference turntable ($10,720), Tri-Planar U-12 arm ($9800), and newly acquired Van Den Hul Stradivarius Crimson cartridge ($5000) were used to play records.



Like a Siren calling, every time I was passing this room, I got sucked in for a listen and each time analog tape was playing. United Home Audio's Greg Beron was playing some of his extensive RTR tape collection and the result was addicting. Greg brought his award winning UHA Phase 12 deck with outboard power supply, ($24,000), and enough tapes to keep everyone happy. The UHA Phase 12 deck has all the latest improvements, DC motors, Shun Mook devices everywhere including the tape head, Synergistic Research wiring, no capacitors in the audio output, and even an EQ control for modest taming of a hot recording.




I took the center seat and listened to an early Crosby, Stills, and Nash album, I was mesmerized. Talk about a big, wide soundstage, the singers were spread out in front of me like they would be at a concert, several feet apart and in their own space. Voices were special, dynamics were exciting, and I forgot about everything except the music, and details I'd never noticed before, I wanted more. Greg followed with Ella and Louis, here the jazz combo was right in front of me, and the singers were tactile present and realistic, I was transported to a smoky club just enjoying the music. The next visit had The Beatles White album cued up on the UHA Phase 12, WOW, I'd never heard it quite like I did here, huge sound field, beautiful harmonies, great music. When Jim Morrison popped on stage and ripped out some songs from LA Woman, including the title track, the music just slayed me, powerful, energetic, moving, and had the whole room moving to the beat, this was one of the best rooms at the show.




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